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What is a Squeeze Bulb?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 13 September 2016
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A squeeze bulb is a device which can be used to aspirate or pump fluids and gases. In the medical community, there are a number of different uses for squeeze bulbs, from old fashioned blood pressure cuffs to the ambu bags used to ventilate patients who cannot breathe on their own. Squeeze bulbs also appear in a number of other settings, as the devices are simple, but also highly versatile, and they are very easy to use.

The squeeze bulb consists of a balloon made from rigid material. When someone squeezes on the bulb, the air or fluid inside is forced out. Releasing the balloon sucks air or fluid back in. A valve on the opening can also be used to adjust the flow of air or fluid, if needed. In a sense, the squeeze bulb is an example of a simple pump, and these devices can in fact be used in this way.

With things like blood pressure pumps and bag valve masks, the squeeze bulb is used as a pump to force air. Squeeze bulbs can also be used for controlled aspiration of gases or fluids, with the user releasing the bulb enough to suck something up. For example, squeeze bulbs are sometimes used to clear the noses of babies after birth, with a small nozzle being inserted into the nose while the doctor releases the attached bulb to pull out mucus and other detritus which may be clogging the nasal airway.

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A modified version of the squeezebulb can also be seen on the Pasteur pipette or eye dropper. In this case, the bulb is attached to a rigid tube, and the bulb can be squeezed and released to transfer fluids. Sometimes liquid medications are packaged with an eyedropper for administration, and these devices are also used in labs to transfer and manipulate fluids. While controlling exact amounts is hard, making these devices unsuitable for measurements, many other tasks can be accomplished with an eye dropper.

Squeeze bulbs are usually made of rubber, because it is flexible and strong, making it appropriate for this type of application. Alternative materials are available for use with patients who have latex allergies to avoid causing contact dermatitis or airway irritation. These versions tend not to hold up as well because they are stiffer than the latex products used in a more traditional squeeze bulb. However, durability may not be a concern, as many squeeze bulbs are designed to be disposable.

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